Donald K. Nelson


CHICAGO — Donald K. Nelson was born in Chicago, on Oct. 4, 1934, the son of Adolph and Rose Gorke Nelson.

When Don was 10, his mother Rose, passed away of a brain aneurism while living in Chicago. His aunt and uncle, Lester and Angie Gorke, raised him in Forest Park, Ill. a suburb of Chicago.

Don spent many years in the Boy Scouts. He had 23 merit badges and barely missed out on the Eagle Scout award but was a Life Scout and a Sr. Patrol Leader. He was an avid Chicago Cubs fan and saw Jackie Robinson play at Wrigley Field.

He graduated from The University of Illinois with a degree in civil engineering in January 1958.

He was married to Sylvia Holcomb in January, 1957. They loved traveling and took many car trips all over the country. Don later drove to Alaska in 2001 with his dog Mac, his 49th state.

Their first home was in Lombard, Ill. in 1963 and in 1967 he began working for the federal government in Joliet, Ill. and in 1973 at the Rock Island Arsenal, U.S. Army Armament Command. There he was responsible for hazardous waste cleanups. He was proud of his work in cleaning up the environment. In 1992, he retired at the age of 58.

Shortly after divorcing, he moved to Iron River to be close to his brother, Richard Nelson, now deceased, who lived near Crystal Falls.

He loved his time in the Upper Peninsula and in the mid 2000s he bought a house in Kingsford where he enjoyed going to the Breen Senior Center for meals, playing pinochle, dancing with the girls and a six-year relationship with Minna Haggerty before she passed away.

His next door neighbors John and Ginny Weber were amazing caretakers for him. Don was an active member of Calvary Lutheran Church in Quinnesec in his late 70s and early 80s before moving to New Jersey in September of 2018 to live with his daughter and granddaughters. There he enjoyed going out to eat on Sunday nights and listening to live music in the summertime.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Breen Senior Center, where Don was the Volunteer of the Year in 2016.

He is survived by his son, David Nelson and daughter-in-law Ardyth Nelson of Omaha, Neb., and daughter, Susan Rachouh of Edgewater, N.J.; four grandchildren, Austin and Natalee Nelson and Amira and Nora Rachouh, as well as his sister in law, Clytee (Tina) Nelson of Amasa, and his niece, Patricia Nelson of Chicago.

The service will be Saturday, Aug. 15 at 11 a.m. at Calvary Lutheran Church in Quinnesec.